Friday 23 February 2018

Bus passenger had enough TNT to make eight bombs

Patrick Brennan. Photo: Collins Courts
Patrick Brennan. Photo: Collins Courts

Diarmaid MacDermott

A man who was arrested trying to transport 1.6kg of high-grade explosives and three detonators on the Bus Éireann bus to Derry has been jailed for seven years.

Busaras had to be evacuated after Special Branch detectives intercepted Patrick Brennan on board the bus.

The quantity of explosives could have been used in the construction of "six to eight" car bombs, the court was told.

Brennan (53) was arrested last June by officers from the Special Detective Unit (SDU) at Busaras in Store Street, Dublin, following a tip-off.

Brennan, of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to possessing four 400g blocks of TNT and three electric detonators on June 16, 2016.

Detective Sergeant Pádraig Boyce told the Special Criminal Court that Brennan had been under surveillance "as part of an ongoing investigation" into the activities of IRA members.

Patrick Brennan was found in possession of four blocks of TNT explosive.
Patrick Brennan was found in possession of four blocks of TNT explosive.

Det Sgt Boyce said that on the day of the arrest, the married father of six was observed leaving his house at around 4.50am and getting into a taxi.

The taxi took the accused to the bus station in Dublin's city centre, where he waited for around 50 minutes before boarding the Bus Éireann 5.55am service to Derry, the three-judge court was told.

At all times, Brennan had a blue canvas bag in his possession and this was in the seat next to him when he was arrested on board the bus.

Det Sgt Boyce told prosecution counsel Ronan Kennedy that gardaí had made a "significant discovery" after Brennan was detained.

He said: "In the base of the bag there was four blocks of trinitrotoluene, commonly known as TNT and three electronic detonators in good condition strapped to the TNT."

On discovery of the explosives "the surrounding area was evacuated and the army was called", Det Sgt Boyce said.

Brennan, who had been jailed for four years in 2005 for IRA membership, was the sole passenger on the bus at the time of his arrest.

And although the explosives weren't armed, Det Sgt Boyce said the TNT had been "lethally packaged" and could have been detonated by a "static charge" whilst being moved.

Sentencing him to seven years imprisonment backdated to last June, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the court was prepared to suspend the final two years of the sentence if Brennan gave an undertaking to not associate with members of unlawful organisations.

However after a brief consultation Brennan's counsel, Diarmaid Mac Guinness SC, said that his client was not in a position to give such an undertaking.

The court imposed the full seven-year prison sentence.

Irish Independent

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